People in Washington were taken by surprise when the Discovery shuttle arrived at Dulles International Airport on Tuesday. The retired space shuttle was piggybacked by a modified 747, but the flight was so low that almost all inhabitants were able to see it. Discovery will be taken to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va. where it will be exposed together with other NASA machines.
Washington inhabitants took a break from every activity they were developing in order to witness the arrival of the much-awaited Discovery shuttle. Given that the two aircrafts flew at only 1,500 feet, Discovery was easily spotted by the crowds of people that gathered in the main areas of the city. The flyover was not just a transportation routine, but an air show as Discovery made low passes at Joint Base Andrews, at the U.S. Capitol and at the Dulles and Reagan airports.
Adrienne Watson, an aide to Rep. Loretta Sanchez told reporters that people were really excited about the show. Some parents even took their children out of school so they could see the space shuttle flying in the air. Jeffrey Solsby, a staffer for Rep. Darrell Issa, added that the sight of Discovery made him nostalgic for the shuttle-induced sonic booms he could hear while growing up in Southern California.
Discovery belongs to a group of retired space crafts that will be delivered to various museums across the United States in the following months. Three more shuttles will be transported to the California Science Center in Los Angeles and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York will receive a new spacecraft next week, but Rep. Michael McCaul thinks it should have been sent to the Johnson Space Center in Houston where it belongs.
People in Washington have prepared a special show to properly welcome the arrival of Discovery at their museum. For that, they will hold a ceremony on Thursday at the Udvar-Hazy Center. All the Discovery crew members will be present at the event, including space pioneer John Glenn who went on a mission in 1998 when he was 77 years old.